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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Kauai - Hawaii ... The beach life. How to report an AirBnB booking that goes wrong.

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We have just spent a wonderful week in Honolulu, Hawaii so far.
We have discovered this amazing ice-cream that is tiny balls - our favourite is Rocky Road, but we may change that - the more we eat.
It is super cold and gives you brain freeze.

But it is time to venture further.
We leave Honolulu and have booked a "Cabin in the Jungle" on AirBnB.
We arrived at the Lihu'e Airport and yet again we find people love to assist us and give us all the wrong buses to catch and places to get off.
We try to call at taxi.
Seriously - taxi's and taxi ranks do not exist in Hawaii.
If you think you are going to get a taxi or a shuttle bus, it really is nothing like Australia.  Do not plan for it.  You must call ahead, or book transport on-line first.
We take two buses and then get off at a shopping centre in the hope of getting a cab.
The store calls 3 for us and we are told all cabs are on the other side of the island and it is a 3 hour wait.
Finally we get a ride to our accommodation and my eyes nearly fall out of my head in shock.

Unfortunately it is a tip.  
It has hardly a curtain, and is dirty.
It has wild roosters.  
To get to the toilet is to sort through trash, and the cold shower is outside - and has 3 feet high weeds - and I do not lie!

We reported it to AirBnB - it took two days of fighting and photographic evidence, and received our money back.
But that left us way out in the never-never with no-where to sleep the night.
Fortunately a guy (staying there from France who has hired us a car) offers us a ride.
I find a cheap hotel on Booking.com (the place at least had free Wifi and I spend 2 hours on Google finding nearby alternatives).
I find a place and we check it out.
It has a pool and we get the corner bottom room.
It is neat and clean and the lady on reception is lovely, and what is more offers us discount.
It is the Kauai Sands and I recommend it if you want a bargain hotel.
Though I do hear it is about to be renovated for $15 million, so doubt it will remain a bargain for long.
Still it is right in the heart of things, and just past the pool is the ocean.
And to top it off, there is endless free coffee in the morning.

We rise early, and I grab a coffee and we take a morning walk.
We find many guests do the same.
It just feels awesome to appreciate the wonders of nature at this time of day.

If you look to the back of this picture below, you can see a Monk Seal.
There is only 1100 left and they are protected.
This female Monk Seal comes to rest on the beach a couple of times while we stay here.
We learn a lot about her and her relatives.
"Ha'upu" is seven years old.  
She is tagged and they can track her family.
The volunteers give us a lot of information - even though it is not yet 7 am.
This all forms part of our "un-schooling" we are now doing.

This is a sacred site right next to our hotel - you can see the decorated rock.  
It is called Kukui Helai and is also a navigational point, and a famous place of refuge.  
You are not to sit on the ground, have a wedding, meditate or do a stack of other stuff.

We decide to go for a walk and the Farmers Market is set up in the shop car park.
We can buy and taste some interesting new fruits.
This Hawaiian lady teaches my son all about how they grow.

We then take a walk along the beach.
The locals have caught octopus, and teach my son about it.
He refuses to hold it, but they agree to pose for a picture.

Next day we are up early again.


I enjoy seeing my son run in and out of the beach as the sun rises.
We start to collect interesting pieces of driftwood, and soon have quite a collection.
I have to take off my jacket and we tie it all up to bring it back to our hotel.

We arrange the driftwood by size and sound.
We make a xylophone.
Quite a few people stop to add their comments.
My son asks me for a cap and I work out he wants to busk, but I tell him to put it away.
He spent hours working through the wood, and picking the ones that made the best sound.
If I could have made a souvenir out of this wood and sent it back to Australia, then I would have loved to, but alas customs might not agree.
But it is smooth, and comes time to say goodbye, and we practice our underarm throws as we send it back to the ocean. 

Time to find out the local deals, coupons and bargains.
When you arrive at the airport or your hotel, you will find a myriad of tourism booklets and coupon books.
I suggest taking the first day (or at least the evening) and ripping out the ones that might work for you.
We find a cheap car rental in Kapa'a.
Paradise car rentals is a bit of "rent a bomb'; but at $25 US including insurance, this is a great deal.
The owner collects us from the hotel, and is a nice guy.
He also gives us lots of tips on where to go and what to see.
Highly recommend his business for a great deal.
I was told by a Canadian friend, Brian back home in Adelaide, to stick an arrow to the dash - towards the curb-side.
I grab some masking tape and do this - it is a great tip!
As I drive, I love how there are so many old surfers around this island.
Kauai is said to be for the "newly weds, or nearly deads".
Seriously it is full of retirees - there are few jobs, so it is surf bums and old people.

We head north to Ha'ena and discover some caves by the side of the road.

Then we pull over and find Lumaha'i Beach.
My son can have a swim and a boogie board.
He could have spent hours here.  It is really blue and pretty.

We head on to a horse-shoe bay named Hanalei - and has a covered end to the jetty.
Millionaire houses line the beach front.

As we drive home, I realise how much I enjoy all of the beauty.
The sea is so relaxing.
There will be more to discover tomorrow.
Tip - if you book accommodation check it out very thoroughly.
Do not stay if it is not up to your standard.
Hygiene is paramount. 
Take photographs if it is dirty, or doesn't match the pictures you have seen on booking site.
If it is AirBnB - report it within 24 hours and you will get  full refund - do not cancel the booking as they may not give you the balance of your refund - I fought for mine and won.

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